Delhi HC pulls up Delhi govt for not sanctioning funds, making judicial officers run from pillar to post
It directed its administrative side to release the requisite Rs 2.52 crore from its budget to the district courts without any delay for the recruitment. A bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad said it was dipping into the high court’s fund as the government has not provided the amount. The bench made it clear that the amount be returned to the Delhi High Court by the AAP government on or before December 31.
“150 judicial officers are waiting to be posted in courts. Thanks to no support and no staff. Let the Delhi government send the staff on deputation to district courts. Or you want these judges to conduct proceedings by sitting at chaupals (public space),” the bench said.
It observed that the judiciary was not doing anything in this regard as it was patiently waiting for the Delhi government to release the funds. “You (Delhi government) did not do anything. Probably you took it as a weakness,” it said.
The high court noted that the recruitment process was being made in pursuance to the Supreme Court’s directions and let the apex court know how much resistance was being faced by them from the Delhi government.
“Thankfully the high court has its own funds. You are making the subordinate judiciary run from pillar to post (for funds),” the bench told the counsel for the Delhi government.
The bench said several orders have been passed for facilities to district courts for efficient discharge of judicial obligations of judges and the pending sanctions or revalidations including providing adequate support staff and giving official vehicles to them to commute to court. However, all these issues have been hanging fire for a fairly long time.
The high court had earlier also directed the Delhi government to process the pending sanctions of other branches of district courts but the sanctions are still pending at the executive’s end.
Delhi government counsel Santosh Tripathi submitted that he had apprised the authorities about the orders passed by the high court in the case and stated that he be granted two weeks time and the matter will be placed before the Cabinet.
However, he was not in a position to state the timeline by which the Delhi government will be able to resolve the issues.
Advocate Sanjoy Ghose, representing the Delhi High Court, placed before the bench letters issued by Principal District and Sessions Judge (West) who is the chairman of the recruitment committee, Tis Hazari Court.
Addressed to the Registrar General, the letters stated that an agency was engaged for conducting the recruitment to vacant posts of senior personal assistant, personal assistant, junior judicial assistant and data entry operators in district courts, family courts in terms of directions issued by the Supreme Court.
He said the written and typing tests were conducted for various posts and the results declared before the COVID-19 lockdown on March 25. Even virtual interviews were conducted in August but the final results have been kept in abeyance in view of the pending petition.
“But due to absence of funds or revalidation of financial sanction, the whole recruitment process has been brought to a grinding halt,” he said.
The court was informed that the Delhi government has slashed the budget from Rs 26.32 crore to Rs 5.32 crore and out of this amount, Rs 2.79 crore has already been incurred and paid towards the expenditure for the ongoing recruitment process, leaving an estimated amount of Rs 2.52 crore for clearing the pending bills and the ongoing recruitment process.
The court noted that the candidates who have applied for the posts have deposited fees with the district courts totalling to a sum of Rs 3.40 crore which stands transferred to the account of Delhi government which is yet sitting over the pending sanctions/ revalidations of budgets for all this while.
Regarding the requirement of 119 pool cars for judicial officers of trial courts that has been pending since 2018, the high court said it is deemed appropriate to direct the Delhi government to purchase 23 vehicles within three months from now.
The high court listed the matter for December 3 and directed the Delhi government to file a fresh status report. It also asked the high court administrative side to file a fresh status report about the progress made in the recruitment process.
The court was hearing a petition seeking to enlarge functioning of the courts, particularly family courts, in the prevalent times. The plea sought direction to all the family courts to allow recording of evidence via video conferencing during the restricted functioning of courts owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, either by the presiding judge of the family court or by a commission.
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